Underestimated but equally ambitious: Wildcard regions at Worlds 2021 preview - Dexerto
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Underestimated but equally ambitious: Wildcard regions at Worlds 2021 preview

Published: 4/Oct/2021 13:25 Updated: 6/Oct/2021 9:40

by Ben Mock

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Eight teams attend Worlds from areas known as wildcard regions. These smaller regions span the globe, from South America to Oceania. At Worlds 2021, one of these teams will start in the group stage, while the other seven must fight their way through Play-Ins.

The teams from wildcard regions are ones that fans tend to overlook. However, they often provide some of the biggest surprises at Worlds. This year is no different, with eight teams eager to show what they can do on the game’s biggest stage.

If you haven’t caught any of the action this year, here’s a quick debrief of the wildcard region squads in attendance at Worlds 2021.

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Be sure to check out our Worlds 2021 hub and our post-draw preview with commentator Zack ‘Rusty’ Pye. You can find our previews of the other regions by clicking the links below:

PCS (Southeast Asia)

#1 seed – PSG Talon (Hong Kong)

PSG Talon PCS Summer 2021
Paris Saint-Germain
Seeded into the group stage, can PSG Talon hold their own against the bigger regions?

Last Worlds appearance: 2020 (Groups)

Best Worlds finish: 10th (2020)

Main roster:

  • Su ‘Hanabi’ Chia-Hsiang (Top lane)
  • Kim ‘River’ Dong-woo (Jungle)
  • Huang ‘Maple’ Yi-Tang (Mid lane)
  • Wong ‘Unified’ Chun Kit (AD carry)
  • Ling ‘Kaiwing’ Kai Wing (Support)

Substitutes:

  • Wong ‘Kartis’ Ka Lok (Top lane)

PSG Talon remain the best team in Southeast Asia. The PCS launched in Spring 2020 and PSG Talon has won three of the four splits held by the league.

Talon started 2021 by reaching the semifinals of MSI before following up that accomplishment with a perfect 18-0 Summer split. Despite a loss to Beyond Gaming in the Winner’s Final, they bounced back to snag the PCS’ coveted main group draw seeding.

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While they made noise at MSI, PSG Talon will have to take on Fnatic and MSI champions RNG if they want to make noise at Worlds as well. If they can repeat their heroics from MSI, then perhaps they can sneak into the knockout stages. If not, it will be an early flight home for the PCS champions.

Player to Watch: Unified was named PCS Summer MVP and for good reason. The AD carry had a KDA of 15.9, over double that of the next-best botlaner. He’s known for his mastery of marksmen like Aphelios and Varus, and will be crucial to a strong showing from PSG Talon.

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#2 seed – Beyond Gaming (Taiwan)

Doggo Beyond Gaming
Riot Games
Call them the Baha Men, because Beyond Gaming are ready to let the Doggo out

Last Worlds appearance: 

Main roster:

  • Wu ‘Liang’ Liang-Te (Top lane)
  • Huang ‘HuSha’ Zi-Wei (Jungle)
  • Chien ‘Maoan’ Mao-An (Mid lane)
  • Chiu ‘Doggo’ Tzu-Chuan (AD carry)
  • Wu ‘Kino’ Hsin-Jung (Support)

Beyond entered the PCS in 2021, acquiring the slot of ahq e-Sports Club. They made a lot of noise, finishing second in both 2021 splits. They had their shot at stealing the top seeding from PSG Talon but couldn’t repeat their Winner’s Final upset victory in the Grand Final.

The most exciting prospect behind Beyond Gaming’s Worlds attendance is being able to see more of Doggo in action. The AD Carry appeared on PSG Talon’s roster at MSI after Unified was unable to travel to Iceland, and became one of the players to watch.

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While Beyond should make it out of Play-Ins with relative ease, there is no easy group for them to fall into come the main stage.

Player to Watch: Everyone wants more from Doggo after the teaser of what he can do at MSI. With a mix of marksmen and hard carries in his pocket, he is set to absolutely light up the bot lane. It may also serve as a nice showcase for the other regions, who will be able to get a better look at this phenomenal talent. While Beyond aren’t slated for a long stay at Worlds, Doggo will surely make it one people won’t stop talking about.

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LLA (Latin America)

Infinity (Costa Rica)

Infinity LLA Closing 2021

Last Worlds appearance: 2018 (Play-Ins)

Best Worlds finish: 19th (2018)

Main roster:

  • Mateo ‘Buggax’ Alejandro Aroztegui Zamora (Top lane)
  • Diego ‘SolidSnake’ Vallejo (Jungle)
  • Cristian Sebastián ‘Cody’ Quispe Yampara (Mid lane)
  • Matías ‘WhiteLotus’ Musso (AD carry)
  • Gabriel ‘Ackerman’ Aparicio (Support)

Infinity bounced back from a down year in 2020 to win both splits in Latin America in 2021. They appeared at MSI, going 1-5 in their group as they managed to take a game off Japan’s DetonatioN FocusMe. They also needed a comeback victory in the Grand Final of the LLA Closing split to make it Worlds, rallying from 2-1 down against Estral Esports.

While the results do not inspire a lot of confidence, Infinity showed at MSI by beating DFM that they can beat other Play-In teams.

Infinity have previous Worlds experience, but they face a tough Play-In group featuring Hanwha Life Esports and LNG. They might be able to sneak into the second stage with wins over Australia’s PEACE and Brazil’s RED Canids, but don’t expect Latin American representation in the main draw.

Player to Watch: Cody has been called the “Latin American Faker” by Doublelift due to his reputation in NA solo queue. His signature champion is Zoe, so expect plenty of the mischievous mage during Play-Ins.

LJL (Japan)

DetonatioN FocusMe

DetonatioN FocusMe MSI 2021

Last Worlds appearance: 2019 (Play-Ins)

Best Worlds finish: 18th (2018)

Main roster:

  • Shunsuke ‘Evi’ Murase (Top lane)
  • Moon ‘Steal’ Geon-yeong (Jungle)
  • Lee ‘Aria’ Ga-eul (Mid lane)
  • Yuta ‘Yutapon’ Sugiura (Bot lane)
  • Yang ‘Gaeng’ Gwang-yu (Support)

DetonatioN FocusMe missed Worlds last year after falling short in the regional playoffs to V3 Esports. After a hiccup against Rascal Jester in their first playoff match, they bounced back to win the Summer Grand Final.

Japan has never really made noise at Worlds, but this DetonatioN FocusMe team has some bite. They beat Cloud9 at MSI and boast the strongest lineup, talent-wise, that the Japanese region has possibly ever seen. However, with Hanwha Life Esports and LNG in their Play-In group, don’t expect to see DFM make it to the group stage.

Player to Watch: Lee ‘Aria’ Ga-eul joined the Japanese champions at the start of 2021 and has made quite an impact. While he may have a smaller champion pool than other mid laners at Worlds, his mastery of the mage meta on champions like Ryze and LeBlanc mean it won’t be an easy mid lane for anyone.

LCL (Commonwealth of Independent States)

Unicorns of Love (Russia)

Nomanz Unicorns of Love
Riot Games
Can longtime leader Nomanz lead his Unicorns of Love back to the Worlds group stage?

Last Worlds appearance: 2020 (Groups)

Best Worlds finish: 16th (2020)

Main roster:

  • Vladislav ‘BOSS’ Fomin (Top lane)
  • Kirill ‘aHaHaCiK’ Skvortsov (Jungle)
  • Lev ‘Nomanz’ Yakshin (Mid lane)
  • Andrey ‘Argonavt’ Yakovlev (AD carry)
  • Aleksandr ‘SaNTaS’ Lifashin (Support)

Everyone’s favorite pink jersey-wearing team named after a mythical creature return to Worlds. Unicorns of Love once again dominated the LCL, but like many other teams on this list, they suffered a minor hiccup in the Summer playoffs, losing in the Winner’s Final to the team they would then go on to beat for a place at Worlds.

Unicorns of Love are one of the few teams that could potentially challenge the top Play-In seeds, but it is going to be a grueling uphill battle for the Russian champions as they try to overcome the likes of Beyond Gaming and Cloud9.

Player to Watch: Nomanz was crowned MVP of the LCL. He is a fearless mid laner, also serving as Unicorn’s leader for years, and with a wide range of champions at his disposal. Unicorns have always been known for their unorthodox approach to drafting and for keeping their opponents guessing, especially in the mid lane, and that may be the key to them getting out of Play-Ins.

TCL (Turkey)

Galatasaray Esports

Galatasaray Esports TCL 2021

Last Worlds appearance: 

Main roster:

  • Kim ‘Crazy’ Jae-hee (Top lane)
  • Berk ‘Mojito’ Kocaman (Jungle)
  • Onur ‘Bolulu’ Can Demirol (Mid lane)
  • Noh ‘Alive’ Jin-Uk (AD carry)
  • Onur ‘Zergsting’ Ünalan (Support)

The reign of SuperMassive Esports is over, as Galatasaray become just the fourth team to represent the Turkish region at Worlds. Owned by 22-time Turkish soccer champions Galatasaray, the esports org has been around since 2016, and in that time they have boasted the likes of Abbedagge and BrokenBlade on their roster. However, 2021 has been their true breakout year. After a fourth-place finish in the Winter Split, they comfortably won the Spring split following a 15-3 regular-season record and an easy playoff run.

The question remains as to whether their aggressive style of play can help them make an impact at Worlds 2021. They find themselves in the ‘easier’ of the two groups for Play-Ins but will still have to face the likes of Beyond Gaming, Cloud9, and Unicorns of Love if they want to make it to the next stage.

Player to Watch: Berk ‘Mojito’ Kocaman is the king of the Turkish jungle. He was a major reason why Galatasaray made their first Worlds, earning TCL summer MVP honors for his production. The question will be if he can go toe-to-toe with the other elite junglers in the Play-In stage.

CBLOL (Brazil)

RED Canids

RED Canids CBLOL 2021
CBLOL
Can the boys from Brazil cause an upset at Worlds?

Last Worlds appearance: 

Main roster:

  • Guilherme ‘Guigo’ Ruiz (Top lane)
  • Gabriel ‘Aegis’ Lemos (Jungle)
  • Daniel ‘Grevthar’ Ferreira (Mid lane)
  • Alexandre ‘TitaN’ Lima (AD carry)
  • Gabriel ‘Jojo’ Dzelme (Support)

This may be the biggest surprise of Worlds. RED Canids finished sixth in the CBLOL Split 2, making them the lowest seed in the playoffs. They then proceeded to sweep the third-seed Flamengo Esports and take down the second-seed Vorax Liberty 3-1 in the next round. In the Grand Final, they faced fourth-seed Rensga eSports, who had upset the top-seed paiN Gaming in their own surprise playoff run. RED Canids won the match to earn their first-ever Worlds spot.

The story is one that makes esports special. However, don’t expect RED Canids to make much noise at Worlds 2021.

Player to Watch: Daniel ‘Grevthar’ Xavier only took the mid lane role for RED Canids in the playoffs after sitting on the bench for the regular season. However, he made an immediate impact on the team. Expect to see him jump on Kled, who is considered to be his signature champion.

LCO (Oceania)

PEACE (Australia)

PEACE LCO Split 2 champs
PEACE
Missing two starters and with an LEC legend in top lane, what can PEACE do at Worlds 2021?

Last Worlds appearance: 

Main roster:

  • Tamás ‘Vizicsacsi’ Kiss (Top lane)
  • Leo ‘Babip’ Romer (Jungle)
  • James ‘Tally’ Shute (Mid lane)
  • Vincent ‘Violet’ Wong (AD carry)
  • Ryan ‘Aladoric’ Richardson (Support)

Substitutes:

  • Tristan ‘Lived’ Fulcher (Top lane)

Riot Games shocked League fans and pros alike in 2021 with the sudden shuttering of their Oceania office. ESL Australia and Guinevere Capital came together in the aftermath, creating the LCO to replace the OPL, which had shuttered along with Riot operations.

PEACE were a team that came into existence alongside the LCO, buying the spot of Avant Gaming from the OPL. They finished second in the first split of the year, coming through the playoffs as the fourth seed. For the second split, they were the fifth seed and ran the gauntlet to once again face the first-seed PentanetGG. This time they swept and became the first team to represent the LCO at Worlds 2021.

PEACE made a little pre-tournament noise by signing Tamás ‘Vizicsacsi’ Kiss to cover their vacant top lane position. But don’t go into World expecting a miracle run from the Australians, especially given they face a Play-In group that also includes Hanwha Life and LNG.

Player to Watch: While Vizicsacsi’s return is intriguing, he has not played professionally since 2019. Ryan ‘Aladoric’ Richardson sat out 2020 but returned to play in 2021 with fantastic results. The support was top-5 in his position in the LCO Split 2 and came into his own in the playoffs, earning Finals MVP honors. Expect lots of strong carry champions like Leona and Nautilus